Under 18? Get Mom on Board!

One of the biggest obstacles to a teenage girl beginning a modeling career is her parents. If you are under 18, you can’t sign a legal contract, and that includes a model release form. That means you can’t work with a professional photographer and you can’t sign an agency contract either. Never, ever misrepresent yourself as 18 when you are not! Pretending to be an adult can get you into some very serious trouble, not only with the law, but with predatory creeps Until you are 18, one of your parents will have to sign releases and other contracts.

Taking the right approach to talking with your parents about modeling is the key to success. It’s almost always Mom who has the final word on her daughter’s modeling, so focus on Mom. Dad may grumble, but he’ll usually defer to Mom on this one.

First, take a moment to see it from her perspective. Mom is worried. She is concerned about your safety. Her imagination sees her little girl in some creepy guy’s basement, while he encourages you to take your clothes off, or worse, rapes you. In fact, these creepy photographers do exist in every town, so your Mom’s concern is reasonable. To win her approval, you will have to show her that you have thought about this and have ways of dealing with it.

The way to reduce risk is research. Find the photographers in your town who have a good reputation. Talk to agents, models, makeup artists, hair stylists, and so on. They will tell you who you can trust. Then check their Web sites and social media pages to see if they look professional. Avoid photographers who post nude, risqué, or sleazy photos. Mom will freak out when she sees those.

When you have decided on a few photographers to target, call them and ask if they will work with a new model. Don’t expect to be paid for these first few shoots. Your pay will be learning the craft from professional photographers. Don’t worry, very soon you will be booking paid gigs. Find one willing to work with you and help you learn to pose. Let him know you are a minor and will be bringing your Mom. If he has a problem with that, scratch him off the list.

While you’re evaluating photographers, read the book. And don’t read only this one, read others too. Read everything you can find on breaking into modeling. You’ll be amazed how helpful that info will be when you talk to Mom.

Then, when you approach Mom, let her know how badly you want to do this. Explain to her that you have done a lot of reading on how to break into the business and it’s something you feel you are ready for. You are serious about pursuing modeling and are committed to doing what it takes to be successful. Don’t beg or whine; discuss it with her in calm terms and address her concerns using the knowledge you have learned.

Tell her you have done considerable research to find a reputable photographer, and that you would like her to come along, so she can sign the release and make sure it’s a safe environment for you. She will be impressed that you have done your homework, and you will have defused most of her concerns right up front.

In that first shoot, Mom will want to stay. You may not enjoy that, but don’t fight it. Let her be there, but ask her to stay quiet and out of the way during the shoot itself. If she has questions or concerns, she can discuss those with the photographer before the shoot begins.

After you have worked with a photographer a couple times, she may feel comfortable letting you do the shoot alone, though you should always have a cell phone with you. An alternative is to bring a friend, as an escort, to the shoot with you. Mom may be OK with that, once she has developed some trust in the photographer.

Regardless of how well you think you know a photographer, always take precautions and have an escape plan. An escort is always a good idea. Never allow a photographer to talk you into taking off more clothing than was agreed to prior to the shoot, and never feel obligated to do anything a photographer asks. If he begins touching you inappropriately, end the shoot immediately and leave.

As you work with more photographers and develop your portfolio, the time will come to sign with an agent. Again, Mom will be involved, but you need to do the research. See the blog on finding an agent for more info.

When you turn 18, you can work with photographers and sign agency contracts. But you may still want to ask for your parents’ advice, especially if you are still living at home. At 18, the job of keeping you safe transitions completely from Mom to you. Continue to do your research, be very careful, and take appropriate precautions, including escorts.

Mom can be a tremendous source of support and a wonderful advocate for you, both as a minor and as an adult. Invite her to help you shape your modeling career.

Be smart, be safe, and be a great model!

Yes You Can!

There are many reasons girls use to convince themselves they can never be a “real” model. I’m too short. I’m too shy. I’m not pretty enough. I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m a minority. I’m not healthy enough. I don’t live in a big city.

Do any of these sound familiar? They are all merely excuses for not getting started. Let’s blow them away one by one.

I’m too short. It’s true that if you are five-three, you will likely never walk the runways of Paris. But there are many, many modeling avenues available to you, from lifestyle to commercial to parts to promotional to fitness to alternative. Even some fashion opportunities are open to a shorter model. And don’t forget theater and dance! Get out there and begin your career instead of bemoaning your petite frame. You are beautiful. Show the world!

I’m too shy. The Model You is full of interviews with highly successful models who were shy, withdrawn girls. Many even considered themselves ugly ducklings, misfits, loners, and socially awkward. This is so common that it is really the rule, not the exception. It will take guts to step outside your comfort zone and start modeling, but you will likely soon find that modeling itself will give you the self-confidence you lacked. Rest assured many of those top models you admire started out with as much self-doubt and fear as you are feeling.

I’m not pretty enough. This fits in with the shyness and insecurity. When you look in the mirror you see a tiny pimple or blemish rather than your overall beauty. Once photographers begin paying you to pose for them, you will suddenly realize how pretty you truly are. Let your inner beauty (and your fierce!) shine through to illuminate your natural physical beauty. Realize too that there are lots of different kinds of modeling. If you discover you don’t have a face that is marketable for fashion, you may have a body for fitness modeling, hair for hair modeling, or a personality for promotional modeling. Find your niche and pursue it with passion!

I’m too young. You are never too young. Many top models started as child models, even as young as four or five. Others waited until they were teenagers. If you’re interested in fashion, and potentially high fashion, agents are now looking for girls as young as 14. Many of the world’s top fashion models are 16-18, and are often finished before they turn 20. Keep in mind if you are starting your career before you are 18, you will need parental consent at every step of the way. See the book for suggestions on how to approach Mom!

I’m too old. Yes, if your goal is to walk the runways of Milan or NYC, you’d better start young. But you can be a very successful commercial model starting in your 20s or even later. We interviewed one successful local model who didn’t start until she was in her 40s! Just look at TV commercials and magazine ads. There are opportunities for every type of person of every age, even for pregnancy models. The earlier you start the better, but it’s never too late!

I’m a minority. The world of fashion modeling is largely Caucasian. But this is changing rapidly. Tyra did it, and it’s much easier now than it was then. More importantly, commercial clients are now realizing how vital the minority populations are to their sales, and are requesting more and more minority models, especially lifestyle models. As a minority there are fewer opportunities, but you have less competition for the available jobs. Get out there and show your stuff!

I’m not healthy enough. It’s amazing how many girls with disabilities are modeling. We interviewed some girls with very serious, chronic health conditions. It is more difficult for them. They may be able to model less often than other girls. But modeling is something that helps them feel good about themselves and realize they are more capable then they thought. If you can get to the job, you can model.

I don’t live in a big city. Most of the top fashion models in NYC and LA did not start there. In fact, most started in small towns, doing local modeling, and worked their way up. The same is true of commercial models. Learn the ropes and “earn your chops” in your home town, then move on and move up when you are ready. Even small towns have photographers. Connect with them and get started. The Model You has tons of info on how to go about this.

Get the book and get to work.  No excuses!

Interview with Nicole, Part 2

The Model You heard Nicole’s take on Modeling in Part 1, let’s hear more!

Nicole, The Model You

Nicole, The Model You

The first shoot is done, what is your next step?
I got on Model Mayhem and a lot of photographers wanted to work with me.  I set up a shoot with one photographer for my first ‘real’ shoot.  But it was horrible!

Why was it horrible?
He said he loved my style and it is unique.  He said go all out with you outfits, show your style!  I brought two outfits to the college campus where we were shooting.  Apparently , he was helping with construction at the college and had keys to get in the building.  He hated my style and wanted me to wear his clothes.

What were his clothes?
They were these really girly outfits, but the worst part is they were see through!  He wanted me to take everyone off and put those on.

This isn’t what you agreed on?
No way!  We were going to shoot my style, then he totally changed it!

Did you end up shooting?
Yeah, but we did it on my terms, with my outfits.  I did a few of his that weren’t see through, but I hated them.

First real shoot and you hated it?
Yeah, but I started working harder on Model Mayhem.  I realized I need to be proactive and add people and look for work, not just let it come to me.  I found some great photographers who loved my style.

What was your favorite shoot?
I did a straight edge shoot and I loved it!  I’m straight edge and really got to express myself.  I love to shoot where I can express myself. The theme isn’t really important, I just wanted do take what I have inside and show it to the world!

What is straight edge?
It varies, but for me, it is no smoking, no drinking, no drugs.

You’re straight edge, Is modeling itself addicting?
It is!  If I don’t set up a shoot and shoot every month, I get shaky and freak out!  I need to shoot!

What was your goal as a model?
I wanted to book a plane ticket to LA or any fashion capital.  Here, it is really hard to find agencies and work.  I look up all the agencies here and I submit photos and hope they’ll sign me.  My style and look are unique, so it is hard to find an agency with a good fit.

Are you trying to be the next Tyra, be in Sports Illustrated . . .?
I don’t want to be one of the ANTM girls, I just want to be a known alternative model.  I want my name to be out there.  I don’t have to be on top, but don’t want to be at the bottom.

What’s stopping you?
I don’t have the money to do it, and even if I did, my parents are forcing me to get a job!

What is your dream shoot?
Do a photo-shoot with my favorite band, the Black Veil Brides. Their music inspires me so much!  To shoot with them would be amazing!

You’re pretty, you have friends all over the world, your pics are seen by millions of people.  Why would you feel nervous and bad?
Sometimes, when I sit down and think, my mind goes toward all the negative and not the positive.  I try to stay busy so I don’t focus on the negative things in life.

What does ‘fierce’ mean to you?
Fierce is all about being you, who you are and adding an attitude to yourself, your face, your look, and your walk!

Are you born fierce or can it be learned?
You can learn to be fierce!  I had to learn. (laughs)

Have you become ‘that girl’?
No. (laughs)

Is modeling hard?
It honestly is, because it’s not just taking pretty pictures,.  A lot of girls want to do it, but booking shoots, holding schedules, being sore from poses, it is very tough!

How do you become fierce?
It’s when I dress up!  When I put on my clothes, do my hair and makeup, I walk out the door and something clicks.  Whatever I wear, I rock.  I feel so much better about myself!

What advice do you have for girls who read this book?
Never give in, take joy in who you are, don’t throw away your dream.  Go for it.  Don’t let your parents or anyone stop you if you believe it!

What would you tell their parents?
If you love your kids, support them and their dreams!

What’s next?
I’m not sure, but it will be fun!

Nicole, The Model You

Nicole, The Model You

Interview with Emily, Part 2

We met Emily in Part 1, continue reading about her modeling adventures!

the model you, emily

the model you, emily

Your first shoot, tell me about it.
I shot downtown with a really good photographer.

You’re there, you’re fierce, who did you bring?
Mom and my friend were there with me

Did you tell your friends about the shoot?
I told some, they thought it was cool, but they weren’t as excited as I was.

You’re on the set, all dressed up, ready to go. You look in the mirror, what do you see?
I’m like DAMN, I look great! I’m excited, this is going to be awesome. And it was. All this was worth it, I know I can do this!

You’re in front of the camera, you first picture is about to happen, how does it feel?
Amazing! I’m in love with this, I can do this all day every day!

The first shoot is done. Then what?
I get a link to the pictures, my mom and dad race in the room to see them. Wow they said, that girl is so pretty and so awesome, it isn’t me. But it is me! Huge confidence boost, adrenaline rush, and addicting. I need to do this again!

Any bad experiences as a model?
I did a shoot a few months ago, but still haven’t’ got the pictures back.

What’s your dream?
I want to see my face on a Chanel ad. I see those billboard ads at the mall, and I want that to be me.

Have you told anyone about that goal?
No, this is the first time I’ve told anyone.

What do you friends think about model Emily?
They like her. Today they wanted to hang out, but I told them I had to do this interview and they thought that was really cool.

Tell them to buy the book.
Buy the book!

Do people treat you different?
A little bit. I’m a weird shy kid that talked to three people. We are the weird kids. But anyone that knows I’m a model treats me different, in a good way.

Why don’t you tell more people?
It doesn’t come up, and most people I talk to don’t think it would be interesting.

Have you ever become ‘that girl’ ?
That girl?

The bitch, the snotty model, better than everyone . . .
(laughing) Yeah, I had that phase all throughout modeling school. I decided I was better than everyone in my class. I’m so embarrassed!

What got you out of that?
I picked up that people started hating me, so I changed.

Do you think it’s odd that lots of these new models are bitchy and stuck up, yet they’ve never accomplished anything?
No, I think it is something that a model needs and it is what modeling school emphasized. They told use you can’t be a stuck up bitch or no one will want to work with you. You have to be nice and easy to work with. You really aren’t better than anyone else, especially when you’re starting out.

What was your favorite shoot?
There is an amazing bridge in downtown Denver called the Millennium bridge. It was night and the bridge was illuminated with all its pillars glowing. The pictures were amazing. I posed with cars driving all around.

Any creepy photographer stories?
This one guy had a studio in his living room. It was odd, but turned out to be awesome.

Your favorite shoot?
I Love hair shoots. I get pampered, free hair styling, and get to see my picture on their ads.

Do you have any other special modeling talents?
I have been told I should be a hand model. My hands are small with long thing fingers, perfect for nail polish!

What’s the best part of being a model?
It’s just fun. You get to dress up in front of cameras, you can let you personality come out and do whatever you want to do. You can put your own ideas in it and rock it!

Do you practice your poses?
Yes, you have to practice, you don’t want to lose your fierce!

What’s the worst part?
I haven’t found a worst part. It sucks when you just can’t get the shot, for some reason something is just off, why can’t I do this right now.  Sometimes you just have an off day.

How has modeling changed you?
I have more confidence. I don’t feel the need to dress up and put on makeup every day to show I’m pretty, I am pretty! That sounds so terrible and self-centered, but modeling really gives you a huge self confidence boost that you just know that you have the right to feel good about yourself.

Any sacrifices?
Not yet.

What do your parents think now?
They think it’s cool. They’re excited for me. My mom is my biggest fan and gets all sorts of fringe benefits!

What advice would you give a beginning model?
You’re beautiful. Don’t give up. If you start modeling and there is a time when you’re not getting any work, keep going. Get yourself out there. Keep going, it really isn’t that hard. You just have to try!

What would you tell her parents?
Let her give it a shot to see if they really want to do it. Be supportive

Thank you!

Interview with Nicole

Nicole is an 18 year old model form a small midwestern town.  She is an internationally known alternative model with a style all her own.  Drawing inspiration from the worlds of wresting and rock and roll, she rocks a unique look and a free spirit.   The Model You had the chance to spend time with Nicole…

Nicole is Fierce!

Nicole is Fierce!

Let’s talk about little Nicole.  What was she like?
When I was young, I got into my style quickly.  In first grade I’d wear trip pants from Hot Topic, fishnets, and thongs.  My mom bought me all of this!  I was inspired by the WWE Diva Lita.  When I was little, I wanted to be a diva and express myself through my style.

You’re little, watching wresting, you want to be a diva.  Why?
I never really thought about it, and I have a fear of pain, but as I grew up I loved how they moved.  I wanted to be like the WWE divas and go into the ring and fight people!  I wanted to show people I’m a tough person.

So mom was cool.  How about dad?
Dad didn’t have a say.  He thought the underwear part was weird, but he didn’t want any part of it.  He stayed away from my style, just let me do my own thing.

How would you define your style?
I’d just describe is as Nikisaur.  It’s what I do!  There is no label for it.

How long did this wrestling dream stay with you?
Until ninth grade.  I got a passion for modeling.  I got into social networks and site modeling.  I enjoy taking self pics with my cell phone.  In tenth grade, a lot of people wanted me to site model.

OK.  What is site modeling?
It’s like regular modeling, but you join an online group.  You join the group, friend a bunch of models.  The owner has a theme each month, like a candy theme shoot, where all the models have to do a candy theme shoot in a set schedule.  Then you post your pics to the album, people vote, and if you win you get a prize!  If you join, you have to do these shoots or they kick you out.  They have rules and you have to follow them.

Why was this appealing?
I don’t know! (laughs)  On my first site modeling shoot, a lot of people said I was pretty and wanted to be just like me!  It spoke to me.  My style can help people branch out and be who they want to be.

You’re getting lots of attention and lots of friends?
Yeah, I started getting more than 10 Facebook friend requests a day.  It was weird.  I didn’t even know these people, but they wrote me to say how they idolize me or how I inspire them.  I don’t know why, but it’s good to hear and makes me feel good about myself.

Someone you’ve never met says you inspire them.  What is that like?
Wow, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.  I couldn’t stop smiling!  Growing up and seeing all these other pretty girls, I didn’t see myself that way.  I feel beautiful!

How did you transition from site modeling to traditional modeling?
I live in a tiny town. I told my boyfriend how much I wanted to model and he went online and found a modeling studio.  I contacted the owner and she loved my style and wanted to shoot me!  She gave me a card for Model Mayhem, so I joined.

Tell me about your first shoot.
I was so nervous.  I wasn’t used to posing in front of other people.  I just posed in my room.  When I’m by myself, I can create all of these great people that only I can see, and I was worried the photographer would think I’m weird.

You practice your poses?
Yeah, I sit in front of the mirror working all my poses and facial expressions, seeing which ones I could do.

Big day, your first shoot, what happens?
I only told my boyfriend and mom.  I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.  I was so nervous, I was shaking!

You’re in the studio, in your makeup and wardrobe.  You look in the mirror and what do you see?
I see a girl who is hoping for something that I never thought would happen.  I didn’t believe in myself and have the confidence.  I was a wreck.  I thought the shoot would be a wreck.

Did you see the photos?
Yeah, I went to the studio.  I was nervous, but excited to see them.

Why were you so nervous?
I thought my posing and facial expressions were weak and would look repetitive.

How were the photos?
They were great!  But she wanted $300 per photo!  That was the first time she mentioned that, so I couldn’t accept any of them.

Nicole and The Model You

Nicole and The Model You

Read Part 2 of Nicole’s interview and learn about her favorite shoot and creepy shoot!!

Interview with Emily

Emily is 18 and lives in a college town outside a large city.  Standing 5’3”, Emily packs more fierce than a six-foot model. She is a rising star, with big dreams, and the look to achieve them.  The Model You had the chance to sit down with her, discuss getting started in fashion, her career, and the model lifestyle.

Emily is Fierce

Emily is Fierce

What was little Emily like?
I wore dresses and tights all the time, I always had tights on. I was really girlie, I played with Barbies! I was into dance, ballet, jazz, tap dancing. I always wanted to be a model since I was 5, that was just my thing. It kept with me until middle school, then I was adamant about wanting to model, but didn’t do anything until sophomore year when I convinced my parents it was my dream.

Were you into fashion as a kid?

Why did you want to be a model?
I have no idea, I read magazines and kept getting ideas. It just kept sticking with me. I thought I have to do something!

From 5 to 16, you didn’t act on your dream?
No, I thought, I could never do it.

Growing up, were your model dreams a secret?
When my teachers asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, I always said I wanted to be a model! They thought that was cool, but really offered no opinion. Like the kid who wanted to be a firefighter, they didn’t really have an opinion.

Did you tell your friends you wanted to be a model?

Why not?
I assumed they’d be like, “Why do you want to do that?” And I had a fear of failure, I probably can’t do it, so I shouldn’t tell anybody.

And then one day . . .
I was at the mall and walked by a modeling school booth. They reached out toward me and insisted they get my information so the school could call me. A few days later they called me and I freaked out! They wanted me to come to an interview session at a fancy hotel downtown. I was so excited, like if the Broncos won the Super Bowl excited! My mom wasn’t as excited, but I convinced her to take me. We had to postpone attending because it was SO expensive, but a few months later we got everything together and went.

What was your dad’s reaction?
He said if this is what I really wanted to do, go for it!

You go to the modeling school audition. What happens?
I didn’t know what it was going to be like. At the audition, there were a ton of people, we had to listen to their sales pitch for the school. We were given lines to memorize like a commercial. I gave my pitch, then they took my picture and I left with a promise for a call back. They called me back, and wanted me to attend the school!

I’m sure there were lots of attractive girls at the audition, was it intimidating?
A little bit, at 5’3” I didn’t think I met the height requirement, but I was hotter than most of them. (giggles)

Did you tell your friends you were going?
Just two of them. My boyfriend didn’t really care but my best friend was SO excited!

Why didn’t you post it on Facebook and tell the world?
I didn’t want to, most of my friends were guys and I figured they wouldn’t be very excited.

What was modeling school like?
The classes were every other Saturday. Classes had 15 people, 13 girls 2 guys. Every week we did something different, like makeup, fashion, or fitness.  The class was in a tiny room so when 17 of us were all working out, I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness!

What promises did modeling school make you?
They said we’ll graduate, sign a contract, and get tons of work!

So modeling school made you an internationally known model, flying in private jets, making millions on the catwalks of Milan?
(laughs) Absolutely not! They didn’t help us at all. I didn’t sign the contract, but my friend did. They never send him anything reliable. He got one crappy job from them.

Modeling school: good choice?
Not really. Maybe if I went to a different school, but I don’t recommend it. I wasted SO MUCH money. They set the perception there was so much work available, but that just wasn’t the case.

Even though school wasn’t a good investment, did you still want to be a model?

You graduated modeling school, what was your next step?
I didn’t do anything for a while, I made a profile on Model Mayhem and started getting interest.

Emily read The Model You

Emily reads The Model You

Check back for Part 2 and hear about Emily’s first shoot, favorite shoot, and advice for new models.

The Agent Interview

In the previous blog we discussed the value of signing with an agent and a few tips on what to look for in an agency. Today, we’ll offer some pointers on how to approach the interview process.

First, if you are just starting out, sign with a local agency if possible, and favor small, boutique agencies over the mega-agencies. See the previous blog for some hints on how to find the right agencies for you. Target reputable agencies in your home town and avoid sending photos to the big agency hundreds of miles away. Open calls at local agencies are OK, but your goal is to get one-on-one interviews with your target agencies. With a small agency, this is often as simple as making a phone call and scheduling it.

Many girls think they need to have a portfolio of professional photos to bring to the interview. Not true! Agents are always looking for new talent, and will not expect an aspiring model to have an impressive portfolio. If you have some favorite photos, bring them. Clear, well-lit, in-focus headshots and full body shots are best. Write your name and contact info on the back, and be prepared to leave them. Assuming you haven’t been modeling very long, you will probably have little real experience and a less-than-stellar portfolio. That’s fine. You don’t need to bring any photos at all. For a new model, how you present yourself at the interview is far more important than any photos you may bring.

Many girls develop a look they feel is flattering and appear at the interview with hair styled, heavy makeup, and dressed to kill. This is a big mistake! Don’t show up in tattered jeans and a sweatshirt, but don’t appear in high heels and an evening gown either. A simple, casual outfit is best. It should flatter your figure without being too tight or showing too much skin. Bring a bikini, just in case the agent wants to see more of your body.

You should not wear any makeup at all. If you feel you must, err on the side of less, not more. Your hair should be neat and clean, but not professionally styled. You may even want to wear a ponytail, to better display your face. Wear no jewelry. Your hands should be manicured and your fingernails short, with a clear polish. Long fingernails and colored polishes are negatives. Finally, pay attention to your hygiene; arrive freshly brushed, washed, shaved, and sparkling.

The agent is an expert at seeing you for your potential. She will evaluate your face, your body, and the way you move and hold yourself almost instantly. This is what she does for a living. Fancy clothes and gobs of makeup will obscure the real you and send a message of desperation. Present a neutral look, a blank canvas, so the agent can envision the possibilities.

The agency interview is not a typical job interview in which you need to impress the interviewer with your knowledge and experience. Relax, smile, be polite and respectful, and don’t be afraid to tell her you want to be a top model some day. Agents want to work with girls who are pleasant and ambitious.

Never feel pressured to sign a contract. A reputable agency will allow you to take the contract home to read it more carefully and think it over. If you are under 18, one of your parents will need to sign too. Some girls are so excited to be offered a contract, they sign immediately, without reading it or following through with other agency interviews. Take your time. Needing to choose among offers from multiple agencies is a great problem to have!

More likely, you will be rejected. Be prepared for this. Don’t take it personally and don’t give up. The agent is seeking a specific look that is in demand by her clients. If you don’t happen to have that look, it doesn’t mean you are not beautiful, only that you don’t fit the current need. Listen carefully to what the agent tells you and learn from the experience. It may be you are targeting the wrong type of modeling or the wrong agencies. Adjust your goals and move on.

The interview process is discussed in greater detail in The Model You book.

Agents: Business Partners or Cash Vampires?

One of the biggest obstacles aspiring models encounter is finding the right agent at the right time. In fact, this is such a vexing problem that some models remain independent their entire careers. We view this as a big mistake. The benefits of an agent far outweigh the negatives. You will never achieve top model status, even in your local region, without a good agent.

You may have decided not to seek an agent because you don’t want to pay the up-front costs some charge for an in-house shoot and building your comp card. Or you may be reluctant to sign with an agent because they will take 20% of your rate. These are lousy reasons to avoid representation. A good agent will return much, much more to you over the long run than your initial investment or the 20% you will pay her.

More likely, you may be confused and perhaps a little scared about how to go about finding a good agent. The Model You devotes an entire chapter to finding the right agent, including detailed advice on where, when, and how to select an agent and agency, evaluating contracts, agency scams, interviewing with agents, terms you will need to understand, and more. It also includes interviews with agents, who reveal what they look for in a new model. Read the book! In the meantime, here are a few things to watch out for.

First, never pay for an agency shoot until after you sign with them! There are a lot of scams and unscrupulous agents out there who are more interested in taking your money than in booking jobs for you. These often involve paying for in-house shoots, comp cards, classes, or other “investments” that are promoted as ways to help you break into modeling but are really nothing more than revenue generators for the so-called agency.

Do your research! By the time you walk in for an agency interview, you should know a great deal about the agency and the agent. You will have already determined that they are a reputable agency, you are a good fit for them, and they have the resources and client base to help you achieve your career goals.

We recommend, except for a few special cases, that you never sign an exclusive contract. There are many reasons for this. You will want to book work independently, as well as through your agent, for one. A non-exclusive contract gives you this right. It also allows you to find a new agent when the time is right, which may be sooner than you think. And it gives you the right to sign multiple contracts with multiple agents, who may represent you in different geographical markets or for different types of modeling.

Once you have signed, you must understand the difference between your agent and your manager. Your agent’s job is to book work for you, not to manage your career. Unless you have hired a personal career manager, YOU are responsible for planning your career, promoting yourself, achieving your goals, and ensuring your success, NOT your agent. You will continue to learn, grow, network, and book work independently, regardless of how good or how involved your agent is.

And while your agency will screen photographers and clients to some degree, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure your safety, too. Your agent is not your manager; neither is she your mother. You must do your research on every shoot, whether you booked it independently or through your agent.

Nonetheless, if you sign with a good agent and treat her right, you can make a lot of money together. Treating her right means accepting her advice on your look, taking advantage of training and networking opportunities, showing up on time and prepared for shoots, and so on. As you provide value to her clients, you will make more money for your agent, and she will promote you to more clients and at higher rates. This is the cycle of success that will launch your career to the next level.

Next time we’ll discuss the agency interview.


The Model You: Why, How, and What

Back in 2011, we were working together on a different project and started discussing how hard it is for girls to break into modeling. It’s not that it’s so terribly difficult, but that there isn’t any good roadmap to guide them. They simply don’t know how to go about it.

We looked for books like this and didn’t come up with much. There are a few, but most have two shortcomings. First, each falls into a specific category: fashion only, for example. Second, nearly every book represents the perspective of a single model, ex-model, or agent. Some of these folks are knowledgeable, but their knowledge is limited to their own experiences, their own regions, their own journeys.

So we decided to fill the need. We spent much of 2012 interviewing models and agents. We interviewed all kinds of models, from those just starting out to highly successful international models. We interviewed models from all over the USA as well as a few who work in Europe and Asia. We interviewed runway and print fashion models, of course, but also commercial, parts, promotional, nude, theatrical, and alternative models. We interviewed sole-proprietor agents from small boutique agencies as well as some of the top agents in the country.

Then we started writing. We distilled this accumulated knowledge into a book, the book so many models told us they wish they had when they were starting out. We included everything: from choosing a career path, building a portfolio, finding an agent, avoiding scams and creeps, to keeping tax records. You name it, we included it. We did exclude information on how to walk, apply make-up, pose, and so on. These are skills best learned one-on-one and on the job, not from a book.

We discovered through the interview process that a major discriminator between highly successful models and “also-rans” is emotional. So we devoted entire chapters to competing well, weathering temporary setbacks, personal relationships and networking, the model lifestyle, and so on. We even included a chapter for parents of the beginning model, since models told us parental support and understanding is critical to success.

But all of this is only the first half of the book. The second half is a selection of some of our most engaging and informative interviews with models and agents. There, the experts speak directly to the reader, telling their own stories and explaining what it takes to “make it” as a model. These are not brief, contrived comments, like what you see in many magazine interviews, but in-depth discussions detailing how models began and built successful careers and what agents look for in a prospective model.

By late 2012, the book was complete, and we ran it past a couple agents for a sanity check and final edit. Finally, when 2013 rolled around, we were ready to publish. We sincerely hope this book fills the need identified by so many girls and helps launch the careers of many great models.

The Model You, by Todd Griffin and MM Gebhardt, is available in all eBook formats and was just released in paperback at Amazon.com.

In future blogs, we’ll provide some excerpts from the book and offer some specific advice for the beginning model. Let us know what you think!